New Orleans:
Music, Culture and Civil Rights
An NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop for School Teachers

June 26-30, 2017

Local/Commuter Workshop
No Housing provided

July 10-14, 2017

National/Residential Workshop
Housing provided (covered through stipend)

Program Description

Please note that these NEH workshops will not be offered in 2018. Please watch this space for more information on future workshops!

The evolution of New Orleans music is essential to American music and reflects a greater story of American history. For almost three centuries, New Orleans has fostered the integration of African, Caribbean, and European influences, persisted in the face of natural and manmade disasters, and influenced music and culture worldwide. New Orleans music provides a distinct lens for examining how the national confluence of cultures generates one-of-a-kind art forms. But an examination of the historical, economic, social, and political contexts of New Orleans tells an even richer story of how her music evolved.

Recognized worldwide as celebratory and exuberant, many see these art forms as purely performance-based—but a deeper study of New Orleans music provides a fascinating window into how an environment of harsh social conditions and vast inequalities can be the genesis of beautiful cultural forms, and how the music itself can be rooted in seeking social justice for all.

Join us for New Orleans: Music, History and Civil Rights, where the central landmark under study will be the City of New Orleans itself, allowing for an in-depth investigation of her influences and inequities—and authentic engagement with the living, evolving musical forms that have emerged from her complicated history.

About this photo: Louis Armstrong’s band at Suburban Gardens night club in Jefferson Parish, summer 1931. A white announcer refuses to introduce a black man on a radio broadcast on opening night, so Armstrong does it himself. An all white audience; all black performers, and black crowds listen from the nearby levee. White musician’s union AFM Local 174 complains to National Office and to Governor Huey Long, with the intent to place Suburban Gardens on “unfair” list for hiring a black band, “taking work away from white musicians.” In fact, Suburban Garden had hired Piron, Celestin, Ridgley and other black jazz bands throughout the 1920s. Image from the Hogan Jazz Archive, Tulane University.
Workshop At-A-Glance

View an outline of the workshop here.

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Tulane University & Landmark Sites with Visiting Artists:

  • Congo Square / Congo Square Preservation Society
  • Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club / Fred Johnson and Black Men of Labor, Dorotha Smith Simmons, Jerome Smith, Benny Jones and the Treme Brass Band
  • Central City, Claiborne Corridor, Backstreet Cultural Museum and St. Augustine Church; tour led by Workshop Co-Director Bruce Barnes
  • Preservation Hall / World-famous musicians of Preservation Hall